Russian and foreign politicians and public figures commented on the London court decision that denied the U.S. authorities’ request to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Assange’s civilian wife Stella Morris called the court’s verdict “a victory for Julian and a victory for justice,” but stressed that there won’t be a complete victory until he returns home.
“We are pleased that the court recognized the seriousness and inhumanity of what may await him in the United States,” Morris said.
She is concerned, however, that the Americans have decided to appeal.
Konstantin Kosachev, head of the International Committee of the Federation Council, welcomed the decision of the British court.
“The reasoning of the judge, who referred to Assange’s suicidal tendencies only, is somewhat strange,” the senator added in a conversation with RIA Novosti.
According to the parliamentarian, Britain should have explained its decision by the impossibility of expelling the defendants to countries where the death penalty is applied. Kosachev says that Washington will try to use political pressure to dispute the current verdict.
Anatoly Kapustin, president and member of the executive committee of the Russian Association of International Law and international lawyer, also thinks that the decision on the US appeal may take up to a year.
The expert explained to the media that the court will not be in a hurry in this case because there are various factors affecting the speed of the decision: “On the one hand, he is not a British citizen, and on the other hand, he is an Australian. There’s a political-psychological moment at work here. Then there is a big wave against his extradition among the liberal intelligentsia,” Kapustin said.
In addition, the duration of the process depends on appeals to higher instances – the Supreme Court in the UK and the ECtHR. “These procedures are very slow. <...> In general, extradition processes last a long time. And given the fact that there is an opportunity to defend themselves in the European Court of Human Rights, I think it will last at least two or three years,” admitted the lawyer.
Edward Snowden, a former employee of the CIA and the U.S. National Security Agency, supported the decision of the London court.
“Let it end there,” he tweeted.
As former Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who wrote the Snowden leaks, suggested, the British court upheld most of the charges against Assange and did not extradite him to the States only because of the risk of suicide.
“This is not a victory for freedom of the press. Just the opposite: the judge made it clear that in her view there was grounds to prosecute Assange over the 2010 publication,” the journalist tweeted.
Australian MP Andrew Wilkie called the court’s decision remarkable, calling on the U.S. to rule out the possibility of an appeal and for the British prime minister to release Assange.
“And the Australian prime minister should let him go home.
A free man. Assange has always been a hero, not a villain,” he tweeted.
The refusal to extradite Assange was also supported by Amnesty International.
“But that does not exempt Britain from participating in this politically motivated process at the behest of the United States and from condemning media freedom and freedom of expression,” the organization said in a tweet.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the country would offer Assange political asylum.
“I will ask the head of the Foreign Ministry to prepare the appropriate documents to ask Britain for the possibility of releasing Sen. Assange,” he said. Court ruling
Earlier, Judge Vanessa Barrightser of the Central Criminal Court in London refused to extradite Assange to the U.S. because of concerns about his health. The U.S. side has announced it is appealing, with a bail hearing for Assange set for Wednesday. It is unlikely that he will be released, as the journalist has previously violated bail conditions.
Assange, accused in Sweden in 2010 of sexual harassment and rape, has been in hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012, fearing extradition. The journalist was later cleared of charges for lack of evidence.
On the morning of April 11, 2019, Assange was detained at the U.S. request. Extradition hearings began on May 2, 2019. Shortly thereafter, U.S. authorities announced that they had filed new charges against him for 17 episodes of violating the Espionage Act and disclosing classified information. If extradited to the U.S., Assange faces up to 175 years in prison.
According to the WikiLeaks founder’s lawyers, the case will drag on for many years and could potentially reach the British Supreme Court or the European Court of Human Rights, so the current verdict essentially completes only the initial stage of the process.